Your money or your life. Highway robbery has been around since. On the high seas, was known as piracy. Been writ that pirates didn’t always even offer the choice. All made for generations of good bedtime reading for youth. And, for mock sword, and bow and arrow, fights. And, really bad movies. Thanks, Howard Pyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, …, and Walt Disney. No thanks, Errol Flynn.
These days, it’s neither sword nor bow and arrows, musket nor cannon. It’s malware. Goes by cyberattack or ransomware attack. A malware fight? Has no lilt. Aargh! I’ve been hit by a virus.
First, there had to be computers. Ransomware showed up; around 1980, about the time computers got really going. By floppy or tape, then. Your cashier check or you crash. No panache; besides, too easy to trace. 1983, cryptographer David Chaum came up with the idea of electronic money. In 1995, he came up with digicash, which was untraceable.
Then, came 2008. Digital currency, most often known as bitcoin, was born out of the 2008 financial crisis. Obviously, something needed to be done about banks. Fair to say that those most knowledgeable were compromised, so it fell to those with lots of imagination and little actual knowledge. As a first attempt, these less than knowledgeable came up with a combination of butter churning and mining by computer which they dubbed bitcoin, or cryptocurrency.
Others, with some imagination of their own, saw bitcoin as an opportunity. Amongst them were ransomware hackers. Now it was by email, your bitcoins or your data. Bitcoins were pretty much untraceable. Russia, for a small fee, provided the Sherwood Forests, the Caribbean Isle. Voila, for a small fee, capitalism provides the likes of GroupSense to negotiate with the hacker.
Keep the good and throw away the bad. Some, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, see ways that digital currency could solve some of the problems inherent banking, such as access, overcharging, …. Liz had a lot to say about the bad aspects.